On a picturesque autumn evening overlooking the Pacific Ocean, twelve champions of Southern California tennis were inducted to the SCTA Hall of Fame, with hundreds of friends and colleagues in attendance. Held at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, the gala continued a tradition which began in 1968 and brought the total number of Hall of Fame honorees to ninety-six.
Hosted by the great Grand Slam doubles champion and tennis broadcaster Pam Shriver, the evening’s festivities brought both laughter and a few tears, across a spectrum of names representing professional, collegiate, and regional tennis greats. Rod Laver, the Aussie legend who now lives in Carlsbad as a staunch supporter of SoCal tennis, capped the evening with memories of tennis greats including Roy Emerson, who was in attendance. Stella Sampras Webster, the legendary head coach of UCLA Women’s Tennis, was emotional when remembering her former mentor and coaching predecessor Bill Zaima.
There were plenty of entertaining anecdotes, like Debbie Graham Shaffer treading heavily on her Rod Laver tennis shoes as a youngster, so her parents would buy her new ones – yet what she got was a bottle of ShoeGoo to mend the damage. Then there were the tender moments, like Ken Stuart recounting a time when his son reluctantly conceded an important match to his opponent over a questionable call, simply because his father had taught him the gentleman’s rule.
Bill Kellogg and Bob Kramer, each from well-known tennis families, remembered their fathers with generous tributes. The family of posthumous inductee and former SCTA Director Henry Talbert, including his wife Fran, received his award to a boisterous ovation. And Jim Buck, with his wife Annette, regarded their Hall of Fame induction as a celebration of his entire family’s accomplishments in the game.
Lornie Kuhle spoke glowingly of his colorful friend Bobby Riggs while also praising the accomplishments of other posthumous inductees, including UCLA great Herb Flam and two-time Pacific Southwest champion Helen Pastall Perez.
The SCTA also acknowledged three talented juniors, each a recipient of USTA National Multicultural Scholar Athlete Essay Grants in 2017. Kaylee Kang of Fullerton, Jourdan Wallace of Pasadena, and Ethan Lopez of Alhambra received warm praise as representatives of student-athlete achievement in Southern California.